The Indo-Pak­istan Cease­fire Sce­nario

In­dia would have to re­main alert on the bor­der/LoC with­out clos­ing its win­dow(s) for pur­pose­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions or al­low­ing the di­lu­tion of its re­vised pol­icy. It would have to re­main pre­pared for in­creased con­tin­gen­cies along the LoC and cross bor­der ter­ror

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - GEN­ERAL V.P. MA­LIK (RETD)

The In­dia-Pak­istan cease­fire along the 1,050-km in­ter­na­tional bor­der, line of con­trol (LoC), and the Si­achen Glacier area, came about on Novem­ber 26, 2003. Then Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Mir Za­farul­lah Khan Ja­mali had an­nounced it as a com­mem­o­ra­tion of Eid al-Fitr, mark­ing the end of prayer and fast­ing dur­ing the holy month of Ra­madan that year. This year’s Eid al-Zuha saw its worst vi­o­la­tion by Pak­istan since 2003. Dur­ing the heavy fire­fight, the an­nual tra­di­tion of ex­chang­ing Eidi sweets was done away. And so was the prac­tice of hold­ing flag meet­ings be­tween the com­man­ders of the Bor­der Se­cu­rity Force (BSF) and Pak­istan Rangers de­ployed along the in­ter­na­tional bor­der.

A his­tor­i­cal anal­y­sis of the cease­fire vi­o­la­tions since Novem­ber 2003 shows that the es­ca­la­tion in the num­ber of vi­o­la­tions has no cor­re­la­tion with the Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment un­der com­ing into power in In­dia. The es­ca­la­tion picked up grad­u­ally in Jan­uary 2013 and then very steeply after Nawaz Sharif for the third time took over as Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan in June 2013. As per re­ports, 347 vi­o­la­tions were recorded in 2013, com­pared to 114 in­ci­dents in 2012. This year, 334 in­ci­dents have al­ready oc­curred till date. De­spite much im­proved vig­i­lance on the LoC, the num­ber of cross bor­der in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts has also gone up in last one year.

Many In­dian jour­nal­ists and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who have been feted by Nawaz Sharif be­lieve him to be the mes­siah of peace. But Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric on im­prov­ing re­la­tions with In­dia fails to match up with the de­vel­op­ments on the ground. Apart from the Kargil mis­ad­ven­ture in 1999 and other ma­jor cross bor­der ter­ror­ist acts when he was in power, his tacit ap­proval—will­ingly or un­will­ingly—to keep the LoC alive and main­tain ter­ror­ist pres­sure in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) can­not be missed. He and the Pak­istan Army have al­ways been to­gether on this page.

Ac­cord­ing to in­tel­li­gence re­ports, soon after tak­ing over as Prime Min­is­ter in 2013, the Nawaz Sharif Gov­ern­ment cleared a new ‘Kashmir strat­egy’ and set up a ‘Kashmir Cell’ in his of­fice. The pur­pose of the cell was to keep track of de­vel­op­ments in Jammu and

Kashmir (J&K). The other re­lated fact in his cur­rent ten­ure is that as his po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion weak­ens, he comes more and more un­der pres­sure from the Pak­istan Army, the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI) and the ter­ror out­fits of Pun­jab and Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied Kashmir.

After Modi Gov­ern­ment came into power, last week of Au­gust 2014 saw the first ma­jor cease­fire vi­o­la­tion in which Pak­istani troops re­sorted to small arms fire and 82mm mor­tar shelling (such mor­tars have never been used on this stretch since the In­dia-Pak­istan war in 1971) of nearly 35 BSF posts; from Samba to Akhnoor along the in­ter­na­tional bor­der. This was re­sponded to in the usual man­ner. After four days of fire­fight, para­mil­i­tary com­man­ders of both sides met and agreed to main­tain the cease­fire.

This in­ci­dent was fol­lowed by the Pak­istani High Com­mis­sioner meet­ing J&K se­ces­sion­ists de­spite be­ing warned by the In­dian Gov­ern­ment not to do so. The In­dian Gov­ern­ment re­acted sharply. It can­celled the For­eign Sec­re­taries’ meet­ing. Soon after, Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif raised the Jammu and Kash- mir is­sue in the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly on Septem­ber 26, 2014. He earned a sharp re­buke from In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Modi in the same fo­rum next day. Modi made it clear that “rais­ing it at the UN won’t re­solve bi­lat­eral is­sues.”

This is where Pak­istan and its army went wrong. With­out tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s re­vised Jammu and Kashmir pol­icy and re­solve, it con­tin­ued with its at­tempt to in­crease pres­sure on the new In­dian regime. In a ma­jor skir­mish this time, Pak­istan Army and Rangers tar­geted the en­tire LoC south of Pir Pan­jal Range and the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion and towns along the in­ter­na­tional bor­der. It must be noted that in all Indo-Pak­istan wars, mil­i­tary forces on both sides have con­sciously avoided tar­get­ing civil­ian pop­u­la­tion in towns and ci­ties. This en­gage­ment of soft In­dian tar­gets after Oc­to­ber 2, 2014, left no choice with In­dia ex­cept to re­tal­i­ate with force. The Modi Gov­ern­ment could nei­ther af­ford di­lu­tion of its pol­icy nor be seen giv­ing in to pres­sure of vi­o­lence. After analysing ear­lier in­ci­dents of cease­fire vi­o­la­tions, it had al­ready given greater au­ton­omy and es­ca­la­tion dom­i­nance/con­trol to lo­cal mil­i­tary com­man­ders. The force­ful re­sponse was ev­i­dent on the ground as well as in the po­lit­i­cal rhetoric. Pak­istan was shocked by the mas­sive re­tal­i­a­tion. It had failed to ap­pre­ci­ate the new In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s strength in pub­lic and Par­lia­ment, and that of its armed forces. Even more im­por­tantly, the change in its lead­er­ship! Such fail­ures can be a fa­tal flaw in any armed con­flict. The im­por­tant les­son from Kargil had been for­got­ten.

It is not only the in­stal­la­tion of Modi Gov­ern­ment in In­dia and re­vi­sion of its pol­icy on cross bor­der ter­ror­ism which ran­kles Pak­istan. The Pak­istan es­tab­lish­ment has al­ways be­lieved that In­dia’s fu­ture is hy­phen­ated to that of Pak­istan. A few days ago, Mu­nir Akram, Pak­istan’s veteran diplo­mat in the United Na­tions, wrote in a US news­pa­per, “In­dia can­not feel free to play a great global power role so long as it is strate­gi­cally tied down in South Asia by Pak­istan.” The Pak­istan es­tab­lish­ment is un­able to di­gest In­dia’s progress on the do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional fronts de­spite Pak­istan. Be­ing left in­creas­ingly be­hind In­dia is bad enough for Pak­istan’s na­tional se­cu­rity decision mak­ers, the In­dian pos­ture of in­dif­fer­ence adds in­sult to in­jury. Ap­par­ently, they have not yet re­alised that Pak­istan’s ef­forts to ‘tie down’ In­dia has done more harm to Pak­istan it­self. Its stand­ing and eco­nomic prospects have de­te­ri­o­rated pri­mar­ily on ac­count of rais­ing and sup­port­ing its ter­ror­ist groups and try­ing to keep Kashmir on the boil. What do I fore­see in the com­ing days? Will the Pak­istan army give up needling In­dia on the LoC or in J&K? I do not think so. As long as it is in the driv­ing seat with­out be­ing ac­count­able to pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, it will con­tinue with its anti-In­dia pro­grammes with­out push­ing it to the level of a war-like sit­u­a­tion. With fur­ther weak­en­ing of Nawaz Sharif do­mes­ti­cally, the Pak­istan Army will en­joy greater au­ton­omy. The at­tempts in cross bor­der in­fil­tra­tion and ten­sions on the bor­der can be ex­pected to go up fur­ther. Pak­istan Army would also be look­ing to the strate­gic ad­van­tage when the US troops leave Afghanistan, which would en­able it to use its ‘strate­gic as­set’ (mil­i­tant groups) in larger num­bers. It would push the Pak­istan Gov­ern­ment to raise the J&K is­sue in all global fo­rums: a resur­gent chal­lenge that would need to be met by In­dian diplo­macy.

Will the Novem­ber 2003 cease­fire come to an end? Un­likely! The gov­ern­ments in In­dia and Pak­istan do re­alise that the cease­fire, which re­mains ‘on some­times and off some­times’, is bet­ter than not hav­ing one at all. There is much pres­sure from the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion on both sides. That not­with­stand­ing, the In­dian Gov­ern­ment needs to con­sider safer habi­tat for peo­ple liv­ing close to the in­ter­na­tional bor­der and LoC.

In­dia would have to re­main alert on the bor­der/LoC with­out clos­ing its win­dow(s) for pur­pose­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions or al­low­ing the di­lu­tion of its re­vised pol­icy. It would have to re­main pre­pared for in­creased con­tin­gen­cies along the LoC and cross bor­der ter­ror­ism. Keep­ing that in view, it is rec­om­mended that: There is need to a re-look at the se­cu­rity man­age­ment of dis­puted in­ter­na­tional bor­der. Dual re­spon­si­bil­ity (and ac­count­abil­ity) for ex­ter­nal threats along a volatile bor­der/LoC/ Line of Ac­tual Con­trol (LAC) be­tween Home and De­fence Min­istries should be avoided. Syn­ergy is im­por­tant in any cri­sis sit­u­a­tion. Syn­ergy among all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ing in­sti­tu­tions for this pur­pose; the joint ser­vices, con­cerned min­istries, in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, the NSAB, the NSCS and within the CCS must re­main high. Ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal po­lar­i­sa­tion on the sen­si­tive is­sue of con­flict over J&K needs to be bridged by pe­ri­od­i­cally keep­ing in­formed about se­ri­ous se­cu­rity re­lated in­ci­dents on the bor­der/LoC/LAC.

Beat­ing re­treat bor­der cer­e­mony at the Wa­gah bor­der

A Chee­tah he­li­copter land­ing at high al­ti­tude in the Si­achen Glacier

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